Thursday, October 16, 2008

Relax. Check out tygh****

Leisure, by W.H. Davies -

What is this life, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like stars at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Finish the smile her eyes began.

A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Geoff Dellow of U.K. has a site named - for some reason not mentioned on the site itself, tygh. Actually, coming to think of it, this is the url; the site doesn't appear to have a name! I wonder if the pronunciation is like tiger or dig or something else altogether? Oh well, some things in life remain mysteries. Which should not prevent you from going to this site and checking the fun math it offers! Geoff is a flash enthusiast, which means that basically his site is a way of showcasing how much fun flash can be, and how it can be used as an educational tool. For a flash based site, it doesn't take any time to load whatsoever. While it is loading - you can skip this though - you read the poem I have also quoted here :)

Try the various links to explore. They are easy, and fun to watch and use for teaching. Like the tangrams. I have amalgamated three screenshots below to make a composite, but the original is actually one figure morphing into another position, another figure playing football in a fast animation sequence. A little - too little animation, but nice intro to tangrams and what you can do with those magic seven pieces...

Check out the halves section for ideas on how many ways can you halve an object - in this case, a square. Perfect to use when you have introduced the subject of fractions, and the child has understood it well.

The tiles game is great maths - and for silly people like me who left their maths in school, it is still great! Kids enjoy this, because the premise of the game is click and see what happens, and that is what childhood is about.

The animated sequence of various geometrical figures tumbling down a straight line, drawing curves, is truly more than a thousand words, conveying the entire idea so simply. Ask a child what might happen if you marked a point on a square and tumbled it down the table - what would the point do in space - and it will be a difficult thing to grasp. But show him or her this, and you have planted ideas that will germinate and branch and grow roots.

That leaves us with just a couple of other links on the page - don't be lazy! Go check those out :)

The url -

P.S. I don't think I remember seeing this song - might have done, but who in India hasn't heard it? As a child, all it meant to me was the melody, and the first two lines extolling the loss of the rainy season worth millions, to a job paying two cents. Being a nature lover, I could totally empathize with someone not wanting to be in a stuffy office when it was raining outside... It was only a few years back when it suddenly hit me that the lady is talking more of passion and romance than of the season! Talk of naivety! Oh well. The seductive undertones not withstanding, it was still the song that came to mind when I read the poem above, so here it is -

P.P.S. 19th Oct. 08 edit -
I have received word from Geoff Dellow about the story behind tygh. I quote from his mail -
"Why tygh -

because it doesn't mean anything and therefore can be used for anything - I use it all the time for email so not meaning anything is handy.
secondly it's dead easy to type
third it was one of the few interesting four letter combinations available at the time

As for my site you've discovered one small part of it ! is by far the more important to me and believe it or not , to the mathematics experts like Prof Celia Hoyle of the London Institute of education.

Using Flash as kids have done develops mathematical thinking because it explores the use of logic in everything you do - what's more it's fun, which is important. "

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A noise is annoying me + Orange**

Phones ring insistently, door bells shrilly, horns honk annoyingly - have you noticed that the things which make us do something are always associated with a negative adjective? The ringtone may be most soothing, the door bell chime sweet as a cuckoo, the horn merely the minimal polite 'please could you move?' Yet, because these sounds are the advance guard of a change in our tempo we ourselves didn't initiate, we view them as intrusive, irritating. Unless of course, you have been waiting for that call from the office informing you of your raise, waiting for your child to be brought home from the hospital, all healed, waiting for your lover to turn up in his new car... :)

Today featuring Michael's second site - the fun page of the communication company Orange. Orange has a site made up specially to illustrate its tagline - Good things should never end!

It is a flash animation, so it will take a while to load up - but the bees ferrying honey from hive to jar are pretty cute to watch in the interim :) Once it is loaded, it is quite literally, an endless page, repeating whimsical animations, some with a shareable code, some without. (See below for three examples - you can click and play in them!) It is fun to explore initially, scrolling down to see what else is there...

You do have to be careful about scrolling - better use the keyboard arrows else you will find yourself sliding down more rapidly than planned! Not that it matters, because after a while you begin to see repetitions, or slight variations thereof, and don't really bother to visit the end of the page at all. So you could just as easily start off in the middle and not lose out anything :)

Each animation generally has its own sounds which remain as long as it is visible. Some are interactive, others just show repetitive movement (not included in these examples here). It is a dream page for the little someone who will insist on using the computer "all on my own, mamma" - endless scrolling and clicking! But kids also are quite likely to get totally bored by the absence of new things to see after a few tries.

There are a few games which involve guessing which word - relating to, say a place, or a transport, is in the 'mind' of a character. Some more in which you hold nonsensical conversations with an 'artificial intelligence'. Both kinds are good for tweens who are able to appreciate this kind of humour. And then there is an ice-cream game, which is different enough from others of its ilk for me to tell you about it. There are three components to the ice-cream, of which you can hold two at a time, ie they will not change when you click the ice-cream man. If you don't 'hold', they will all change, randomly, much in the nature of those lottery machines. So the trick is to hold two, and keep changing the third till you like it, and then repeat the process with the others. Kind of cumbersome, but not really once you get the hang of it.

The url -

P.S. Yes, I have been pretty much annoyed by the phone today which just is not stopping its ringing - you can make out, can't you?

P.P.S. Which sounds are the most irritating for you? Just curious!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Have fun! Find Faces in places***

No words required!

I am privileged to feature the first guest suggestion on this blog today! Michael Balmaceda (thanks!) has these two great sites for kids of any age - and I mean any! To keep things simple in the post title, I am featuring them separately.

The first find is this imaginative blog called Faces in Places. A true collective effort, this showcases photographs of objects or object collections that resemble faces. Go through the archives with your children, and have fun imagining what that face is saying, or trying to see who is it among your acquaintances who has a face like that. Little ones get fascinated just by the positioning of 'eyes' and 'mouth', and whether there is a nose or not. Plus, it fosters imagination offline as well - encourage them to look for faces in all places, and who knows what you will find? Open your eyes to something new today, a new way of looking at things, a new way of finding smileys :)

If you have a photo that fits, upload it to the faces in places flickr group or contact the blog owner via her flickr account - links on the blog.

The url -

P.S. I am not quite able to figure out if it is Jody or Amy who is blogging, but it is one of them from the old travel blog of theirs they have linked to.

P.P.S. Please do not copy any of these photographs without contacting the owner of the photo for permission.

Liam's pictures from old books. And Baby tv****

Its been so long since I started this post that I have forgotten what I intended saying! Plus, I am distracted by the same reasons that have been keeping me away lately. So, I am going to make this short and simple with this beautiful link for illustrations from old books for adults, not children! Liam Quin of Canada scans drawings and illustrations from books which are in public domain. You could use them as free clipart, or simply visit the site for the pleasure of looking at these drawings.

There is a fierce debate regarding the advantages and disadvantages of tv programs for babies as young as three months. The proponents claim that the programs are so designed as to encourage the babies to observe and learn. The opponents believe that the act of watching the tv goes against what babies have been doing for countless centuries, and what they are programmed to do: explore the real world around them. I take no sides at this time. We don't own a tv set, but not for this reason - simply because we never felt the need to buy one. So, today's featured site doesn't come as an endorsement of 'baby' tv - it is simply another good site for children! Neither is this an indictment, for I rather think that some of the programs are quite useful for infants/toddlers.

Baby tv is a UK based network focusing totally on very young children. The website mentions copyright Elite Sports, but I am not sure about the manner in which the two are related.

The games page is attractively laid out in bright colours, with an intuitive interphase and voice overs. Click on any egg to get to the games related to that show/character. The entire game section is flash based, so initial loading may be a bit slow. However, the tortoise/turtle playing peek-a-boo keeps kids entertained. If you need to go back to the main game page, use the back tab in the game rather than your browser's.

The games are simple and easy with bold, clear illustrations, focusing on a child's problem solving ability for the most part. Computer skills required are mouse movement and clicking. The number of games is not large but sufficient. They do add new games now and then, but I haven't been there often enough to know the frequency. Here are three illustrations -

Some have a couple of levels, like the Baby game (the butterfly is called Baby) above. In the first level, children click on an animal which then fits into its silhouette, and the second requires children to choose the correct animal for the silhouette themselves.

The whosit whatsit game here starts off with only a bit of a figure showing, from which kids have to guess which figure it is. If they are unable to, a spotlight will roam over the hidden figure and finally reveal it fully.

There is of course, the ubiquitous matching game, but the one above is part jigsaw as well. Level 1 shows the complete picture, while level 2 requires kids to remember and logically figure out where the piece shown will fit.

The home page for games -

Please note that the old books is linked to Liam's pictures from old books, while his name is linked to his own page. Yes, he does a lot of things besides scanning old books :)